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Butler quits

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The Zebras 1-0 loss to Mauritania this past weekend might have been a tipping point in the rocky relationship between English headcoach Peter Butler and his employers at the BFA Botswana Football Association.

This week South African media outlets linked the polarising coach to PSL outfit Platinum Stars. Butler is expected to replace Dikwena coach Cavin Johnson who has since parted ways with the Rustenburg outfit.

Butler’s last game was a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at the Francistown Sports Complex where his charges lost by a single goal to Mauritania. Following the crushing loss at the Zebras stronghold, Butler was quick to express his disappointment over how the BFA handled the national team.

This week impeccable sources close to the matter alleged that Butler underwent an interview in Rustenburg, SA on Tuesday. In an interview this week, BFA spokesperson Tumo Mpatane said Butler is still an employee of the BFA.

“As far as we are concerned Butler is still an employee of the association and he has a contract with us,” he said. Efforts to contact Butler on Tuesday were futile as his phone was not available throughout the day.

However, there were reports that he had been interviewed for the Dikwena job in South Africa, which we couldn’t independently verify at the time of writing. Mpatane said that the national team is expected to report for camp soon in preparation for the upcoming Cosafa cup scheduled from 25th June until 9th July. In addition Mpatane said they are aware of recent reports linking Butler to Dikwena.

“We will sit down with him and try to understand the issue,” he said. Nevertheless, Mpatane said they have since agreed in principle to another long term contract with Butler. “Our hope is that he will sign the contract.

If that is not the case we will look for a replacement.” The former West Ham United player took over the reigns at Zebras three years ago and his football philosophy quickly unsettled local football supporters.

Compared to his predecessor Stanley Tshosane, Butler preferred to play with an eclectic squad and frequently introduced young players to the squad. Over the years Butler’s team selection became a hotly-debated topic and received mixed reaction from football supporters and the media across the country.

Thus far the coach, who arrived in the country amidst pomp and fanfare, has never qualified for any of the top tier competitions including Afcon and FIFA World Cup. Perhaps Butler’s magnum opus was making it to the finals of the 2016 Castle cup in Namibia where the Zebras made it to the finals and lost to South Africa 2-0. Nevertheless, Butler’s relentless approach of introducing inexperienced players in the national team has uncovered several talented players who are now cracking the PSL market in South Africa. Such players include Thero Setsile, Onkabetse Makganthai, Thabang Sesinyi, Anthony Gouws and Lebogang Ditsile.

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Local hockey body to incur massive financial loss post Covid-19

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Botswana Hockey Association (BHA) President Unaswi Matebu has confessed that her Association will suffer major financial losses post the Covid 19 pandemic that has left the sport fraternity at a standstill.

Matebu recently told this publication that the current situation does not only have tremendous effects on their schedule, but also there will be financial implications more especially that the association does not have full time sponsors.

“We had to cancel most of our calendar activities such as tournaments, national team trainings, Board meetings, and club activities since mid-March this year, all of which have cost us money to prepare for,” Matebu remarked in an interview.

Additionally she said the planning phase for their 5-year Development Plan which was supposed to be launched in June will have to be postponed. Also there are national competitions that were postponed till further notice despite them having already set up teams and having already started preparing.

“Our Indoor Hockey Senior National teams had already started preparations for the Africa Cup of Nations – a World Cup qualifier – that was supposed to be held in June, 2020, in South Africa. Our Field Hockey Senior National teams had already begun preparations for the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers that were supposed to be held in August, 2020 in Zimbabwe,” she added.

Moreover, it was going to be an excessively detailed and decorated year  for local hockey governing body, with the Youth National teams having  already began preparations for the Africa Youth Championships that were billed for September, 2020, in Ghana.

“Player conditioning has obviously been affected because athletes are currently not training as planned and what we had achieved so far might go to waste. We are only hoping that the Continental and World Hockey governing bodies will give us enough time to prepare for these competitions post the pandemic.”

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BFA will not declare the season null and void – yet

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Amidst wide spreading fears that Botswana’s top flight league might be canceled and considered null and void because of the crippling Covid-19 pandemic, the Botswana Football Association (BFA) has yet to make a determination on the matter and has in fact ruled out scrapping off the season altogether.

Local football observers and pundits alike have already started talking of the possibilities after similar considerations of nullifying their seasons were made in the leagues of other countries especially in Europe.  No football activity has taken place in the country since social distancing measures were imposed to avoid the spread of the corona virus.

Local football pundit Fabian Zulu is one of those who believe there is a likelihood the football season will be nullified. “If the current situation persists, then there is a high possibility of declaring the league null and void. This situation wasn’t planned, no one knew that by now we would be facing this kind of situation; so the possibility is very high.

However, in an interview this week, BFA spokesperson Tumo Mpatane said the association has not considered canceling and nullifying the season as an option yet, adding that “currently we are observing a period of extreme social distancing, the ministry  of health and wellness will obviously give advice on the possibility of getting back to football.”

Consequently the BFA still awaits the Ministry to declare that the risks of spreading the virus are reduced and come up with a contingency plan. “If the ministry says there is a reduced health risk we will play out the season; if they advise against it we will then see what steps to take. The health of our players is more important and we will be guided by the responsive authorities,” Mpatane remarked.

However, suspension or cancellation of the leagues across the world seems inevitable even as some European leagues, more specifically the English Premier League, are now contemplating a behind-closed-doors campaign to finish off the remaining matches.

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